The 2017 Ikea Catalog considered as dystopian urban microapartment futurism

Originally published at:



You’re just now realizing IKEA is a dystopian hellscape? I knew that way back when I saw the assembly instructions for the Ferflugenorndorndorn!


While that’s funny snark, they don’t suggest “eating your food off the floor like a dog”. They suggest using your coffee table as an impromptu dining surface that people can gather around, sitting on chairs, tables, or on the floor next to the table, which is something that happens at 99% of the casual potluck get togethers I’ve been to at friends’ houses with too many guests and not enough chairs.


I would say that microapartments being terrifying dystopia sounds every bit like a first-world problem.


I had a micro apartment once. It was in Brooklyn Heights when it was still affordable. No dining room table, but some great parties.



Is Fast Company aware that people live in places other then Metro NYC / San Fran and Silicon Valley? Those are the only places you are going to find $4000 a month studio apartments. Want square footage? Move to Ohio, get a job a Target and rent yourself a four bedroom house with a back yard for $700 bucks a month. Want to live in NY, San Fran etc? So don’t lots of other people. There isn’t much room left so you are going to need to pay dearly for it.


Having spent 15 years living in Ohio, that may have been possible in the 90s (and may still be possible in the rural areas), a four-bedroom house anywhere near a major city is nowhere near $700/month.


So your solution is “trade one dystopian setting for another.”


I haven’t seen the new Ikea catalogue, and probably won’t, but if the company is embracing the fact that a big chunk of its target market is 20somethings who can’t afford anything better (and consider thrift shops beneath them), that can only be a good thing, right?


Amusing as this is, it does seem a little misdirected. Ikea aren’t the cause of tiny overpriced dwellings; at a stretch you could accuse them of helping to normalize the situation, but the tone of this article reads more like “ha ha, look what assholes people who don’t choose to live in $400k+ homes are”.

I don’t exactly live in Soylent Green conditions, but I do have to think carefully about space to make it pleasant to live in; e.g., is a dining table worth more to me than the free space it’d consume? So Ikea’s “hang chairs on the wall” pitch is less obnoxious than most furniture vendors’; If I went to Roche Bobois or wherever Brownlee thinks I should buy furniture, it’s all “how to fill your cavernous rooms for the sake of it”, which would be kind of grossly aspirational even in the 70s, let alone now.


It’s increasingly a nation-wide trend for urban areas, from what I read. The portion of income required for housing keeps going up.


Agreed, this seems like throwing shade at the wrong group.


Ok, and we’ll see the next post about how cool it is to live in a tiny house in 3…2…1…


I still find the tiny house movement hilarious.

I’ve lived in tiny places, and if you’re single? It can be pretty awesome. One person means that there’s no need to make room for things, and all this ‘oh my kitchen folds away when I need to take a bath’ is great…when you only need to do one or the other. Even one additional person fucks that plan up bigtime, and a family basically ruins it.

"But Falcon, people live in tiny homes all over the world wah wah’ well yeah no shit. People live in caves, people live in treehouses, people live in space for months at a time, but many of those examples are not doing it willingly. Certainly megamansions got overhyped for a long time, but having space to move around and have people come over is not crazy.

If you’re super outdoorsy and love spending time in nature then plopping a tiny home on an acre of land and spending 90% of your time outdoors isn’t a bad scene, but that’s not for everyone, and not for the majority of populated countries.

Rant over I guess, but stuff like Ikea’s pushing makes small living spaces way more livable by being designed to fit in them and making them more usable, so go Ikea, in my opinion.


Ikea would sell a gazillion units of that cot if they got a Chinese factory to copy it in brazed steel tubing.


My girlfriend was watching a documentary about people doing the tiny house thing on Netflix. They were irritating. As. Fuck. It’s all well and groovy living in a ‘tiny house’ that you can move on a flatbed to your parent’s property when you don’t like where you’re living, but for folks who are doing it for necessity, ‘tiny house living’ = ‘trailer park’.


But the tricky bit is that being unwilling to live close to other people is really only a feeling of entitlement to space. The only fair way to resolve that sort of conflict might be to re-think one’s conception of autonomy. On the flip side, why should a person need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for extra space just so that they can have a shower, a meal, and a roof over their head?

I have improvised shelters before. My take on it is that if I can have survivable shelter for free, why should I pay hundreds or thousands of dollars per month only to fit more consumer goods, like a sofa or television? Consumerism exists to create economic activity from frivolous commerce - not to efficiently use space or material resources - which it does an exceedingly poor job of.


Space sharing is not the norm today for anyone beyond immediate family or special arrangements (roommates), so by societal definitions, yes people do expect to have personal space of some kind. I’m not sure what weird philosophical path you’re taking with the autonomy bit, but hopefully you understand that philosophy does not make uncomfortable people comfortable.

It sounds like your philosophical take on consumerism is basically banked the same direction, but hopefully you can at least appreciate it is a minority approach. Consumer goods can bring joy or be utilitarian as much as they can simply be empty things bought to to attempt to fill an empty life. And ultimately there are parts of consumer activities that do efficiently use space and do efficiently use material resources, even if other parts do not. There are chic designer studios dedicated to effective utilization of space in modern condos, and there are many companies attempting to find solutions to material resources issues, because there are people willing to pay for those services.

1 Like